Out of Control Policy Blog

South Dakota Passes Eminent Domain Legislation

South Dakota is the latest state to take a stand for private property rights by banning the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes:

Calling it a model of legislative cooperation, the South Dakota Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a measure that is designed to protect private-property rights.

"This bill is truly a work of art," Senate Minority Leader Garry Moore, D-Yankton, said. Moore commended HB1080's chief sponsors, Sen. Jim Lintz, R-Hermosa, and House Majority Leader Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, for working with interested parties in crafting the legislation.

. . . .

Lintz and Rhoden said that although South Dakota has taken a conservative approach to condemnation issues, they wanted to make sure state law would prevent what occurred in Connecticut from happening here.

Under HB1080, counties, municipalities and housing and redevelopment commissions cannot transfer property to private or nongovernmental entity primarily for "enhancement" of tax revenue. It also stipulates that after seven years, if land isn't used for the purpose for which it was acquired, it must be offered for sale to the original owner of the property.

Governor has already signed HB1080 into law. According to the Castle Coalition, SD's law is firm on preventing eminent domain for economic development, having no loopholes or exceptions (unlike Texas, for example):

"This is the first state bill signed into law that gets right at the heart of the issue," said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice, which is the nation's leading legal advocates against eminent domain abuse. "It addresses the most fundamental question: whether it is right for the government to take property from one person and give it to another private party. South Dakota lawmakers hit the answer right on the mark: it is wrong and should be prohibited."

IJ Senior Attorney Dana Berliner, who authored Public Power, Private Gain, the first-ever national report on eminent domain, which documented more than 10,000 instances of eminent domain abuse, said, "Because lawmakers passed a broad restriction on the use of eminent domain for private development, and did so without any loopholes or exceptions, every home, business and ranch in the Mount Rushmore state should finally be safe from the government's wrecking ball."

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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